Currently sat writing this blog on our first Shikansen or 'bullet train' so travelling at something like 300,000 miles per hour (or very fast anyway). We've just left Kawaguchiko which was a much quieter town than Tokyo, allowing us to relax and catch our breath for a couple of days.
Kawaguchiko is part of the five lakes which lie at the bottom of Mount Fuji. A lot of people use it as a base from which to climb the mountain but it's also a pretty spot to take in the view and relax. We arrived there on Friday and headed to our ryokan which is a more traditional Japanese guesthouse. This was very close to the station and nearby 'restaurants' (more on that later). The guesthouse was basic with little in the way of modern amenities (including air con unfortunately, and also private showers eek- we were subjected to 'man time' and 'lady time' in the communal showers). It was cool to stay somewhere so traditional though and we got the true Japanese experience sleeping on a futon on top of a tatami mat.
There wasn't a huge amount to do in the area but we found enough to keep us occupied for a couple of days. Unless you're planning on climbing Mount Fuji (which is incredibly tough according to some climbers we spoke to) 2 nights maximum is definitely enough time to see everything you would probably want to. Saying that, it is worthwhile going, if just for the spectacular views.
A few activities we got up to.....
1) A pleasure boat ride on lake Kawaguchiko
2) A cable car ride to the top of Mount Kachi Kachi from where you get a great vantage point of the lakes and Fuji
4) Visiting the rabbit shrine and stroking the statues for 'strong legs' and 'wisdom'
5) .....and finally ALMOST seeing Mt Fuji. Typically that was the main reason we went there, and for the whole two days we were there, it was so covered in cloud you could barely see it!!!
We mentioned the restaurants earlier and just be forewarned that if you're going to Kawaguchiko don't expect culinary excellence and don't expect to know what you're eating half the time. Every menu is in a japanese and normally only Japanese. We just took pot luck and pointed and it generally worked out ok...... We somehow ended up with whole fish (eyes, bones and everything) in breadcrumbs, a selection of raw meat with a hotplate to cook it yourselves (which was good), various cocktails which we're still not quite sure what was in them (waiters' crazy inventions which he was super excited about) and randomly pizzas?
In the end, we did enjoy seeing the area. Currently on the way to Kyoto so will update in a few days!